ways to make life better

1. For one week, take a different route to get everywhere that you go. Why? Because you might see something that surprises you, learn something that takes your breath away, run into the love of your life, meet your new best friend, or otherwise find life more interesting.

2. Buy dinner for the table next to you at a restaurant. Leave before they find out what you’ve done. Someone did this for my husband and I when we were in the midst of mega wedding-planning stress and we’ve never forgotten it.

3. Draw stick-figure cartoons of your angry boss (or whomever you’re having conflict with at the moment) bowing down before you and apologizing.

4. Whenever you order a latte and they ask your name so that they can call out your order, tell the barista to call you by your superhero name (so if you’re ever at a Peet’s and hear the barista say “Small, single-shot, coconut milk latte for Kate Courageous!” then you’ll know that I’m nearby).

5. If you don’t already have one, come up with a superhero name.

6. Find a phone book (they have them at libraries, if you no longer receive one). Close your eyes and put your finger down in five different places. Send cards to all of those addresses that contain loving affirmations.

7. Carry stickers in your purse and give them to children who are melting down while everyone’s waiting in the line at the grocery store.

8. Play the “May I Speak With the Manager?” game. It goes like this: you receive incredible service, and you note the person’s name. When you’re about ready to leave, you ask to see the manager. Everyone in the vicinity will tense up, assuming that you’re going to complain. The manager will come over with a tight face, bracing herself for what’s to come. And then you—you!—break into a huge smile and gush about how awesome everyone’s doing, how much you appreciate them, and what a difference they’ve made in your day. Trust me, this one is the winner.

9. Plan out the entire trip that you’ve been longing to take. Print out the itinerary, book the flight all the way up to the “buy” button, highlight the dates on your calendar as if they are blocked off.

10. Read up on existentialism.

11. Surprise your spouse/partner/special person at work with their favorite latte.

12. Wear an adhesive moustache for one hour, out in public, and pretend not to know what people are finding so funny.

13. Answer the question: “If I knew that starting next calendar year I’d be gifted $100,000 for paying my basic living expenses and executing a project of my choosing, what would I do?” No paying off debts with this money.

14. Create your own personal mantra. (A few of mine, if you’re inclined to share: “If you want it badly enough, you’ll find a way to get it” and “What would love do?” and “What’s the path of ease?”).

15. If you don’t have kids, offer to baby-sit for someone who does, for free and without their asking. If you do have kids, directly request (via Facebook or other means) free babysitters.

16. Choose a wall in your house that is for writing on.

17. Own at least one thing that has a bad word written on it.

18. Get involved in a social cause. Sign up for the email newsletter if you can’t donate money, and actually read the newsletters. Tell one person you meet a statistic or fact related to the cause you’d like to change. Use less plastic, eat less meat, give the money to the person asking for change without first assessing whether or not they “deserve” it, make eye contact with people who identify with different cultural groups.

19. Create a custom keychain. Like this and this.

20. Intensively seek to understand all of your associations with the word “power.” Understand when it’s mis-used; understand when it’s used properly; understand how you view it in yourself and how much access you feel you have to it; understand how others who have less of it view themselves and how much access they have to it, relative to others.

21. Learn how to make a food dish that you’ve always wanted to make: warm scones; paella; tiramisu.

22. Take a digital sabbatical from email and social media.

23. Buy a canvas and make bad art. Commit to painting over it and creating new art on that same canvas, ten times.

24. Scream your frustration into a pillow, followed by turning on the most irreverent music you can think of and dancing wildly and without reason.

25. Connection is why we’re here, so spend a week being as connected as possible to every molecule of the planet—whatever that means to you. The very act of defining what that means to you will up your joy factor like crazy.